Published On: Mon, Sep 9th, 2019

Asteroid news: A massive near earth object is closing in on our planet’s orbital path | Science | News

The beast of a rock stretches 430 metres, and has been labelled 523934 (1998 FF14). This asteroid will be travelling at a fairly high velocity of 22.26 kilometres (14 miles) per second. It was discovered in 1998 by Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), at Socorro New Mexico.

It is currently close to Earth, at a distance of 0.027 astronomical units.

The distance it is from the planet Jupiter is 3.91 astronomical units.

Most near-Earth asteroids have orbits similar to the Earth.

But, fortunately, the random chance of an oddball trajectory intersecting our orbit is lower.

But, in this case, Asteroid 1998 FF14 is one of the oddballs.

It has an inclined orbit tilted at a steep angle compared to the Earth’s orbit.

This time around it may pass within 4.1 million km from Earth (2.5 million miles) the closest it ever comes.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson echoed NASA’s growing fear of Near Earth Objects, but revealed that asteroids are not the ‘biggest threat to mankind’.

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Dr Tyson, who hosts his own “StarTalk” podcast, where he explores similar themes, went on to claim humans will hinder their own chances of survival in the future.

He added: “What preoccupies me is a concern that we might not be wise enough to be good shepherds of our own fate.

“Wisdom is not just knowledge, it’s how do you act on that knowledge?

“And how do you get knowledge about the future? Well that’s kind of what the whole enterprise of science is about.

In November, European space ministers are set to back the HERA project – humanity’s first mission to orbit the double asteroid and dispatch two smaller drones, named CubeSats, in an attempt to figure out how to deflect it.

Astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Brian May revealed the plans during a promotional video on their YouTube last month.

He said: “HERA is going to show us things no one has ever seen before.

“This asteroid is typical of the thousands that pose an impact risk to our planet.

“Imagine a mountain in the sky with another rock about the size of the Great Pyramid swinging around it.

“That’s Didymos.”

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